Showing posts with label PADI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PADI. Show all posts

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Meet People, Go Places, Do Things

A few years ago Mark and I were strolling along a beautiful sun soaked beach in Thailand after a wonderful snorkeling excursion. I remember talking excitedly about the amazing things I had seen under the surface as well as bemoaning the fact that my lungs would only let me stay down for about forty seconds at a time before demanding I'd return to the surface for another greedy gulp of air. 
When Mark said "We should learn how to scuba dive" I just kind of laughed it off, as back then I mistakenly thought that scuba diving was the reserve for people with plenty of cash to splash. 
However on our return to the UK Mark phoned a few places to inquire about training and costs and after considerable deliberation we decided to sign-up for the PADI Open Water Course with Dive Wimbledon and so the journey to awesomeness began.

As ridiculous as this may sound to others, learning how to scuba dive totally revolutionized my life and it has had a profound effect on my self-confidence. Sometimes something brilliant comes along that makes you glow and grow and for me that something was scuba diving.

  "Meet People, Go Places, Do Things" is the PADI motto and since becoming Divemaster Trainee with Aquatron Dive Centre that has become my sweet life :)

Yesterday Mark had a day off so we jumped in the car and drove to Loch Long. In the morning we dived a site called The Caves and in the afternoon we moved down the shore to a site called The A-Frames
The Caves - Loch Long
Mark and Jen enjoying a post dive coffee.
We've had a fair bit of rain and blustery winds here in Scotland of late but yesterday we had perfect diving weather. In the morning there was barely a ripple on the loch and we even had some blue sky breaking through in the afternoon. The water temperature was a cool 10°C but even after a 45 minute dive I still didn't feel that cold, in other words there is a very good reason why so many fellow divers opt for the Scubapro Everdry 4, it keeps you nice and toasty.
Pre-dive lunch at A-Frames where we managed to gatecrash an army exercise.
The highlight of the day was having our first ever catshark encounter. Sadly we didn't bring the GoPro camera on these dives which was a real shame because the visibility was really quite good but I was brushing up on my navigating skills and we thought it best not to task load ourselves. There will be another encounter I am sure.

I will wrap up with a little medley of pics from the past couple of months.
Now that Mark and I are both Divemasters in training we will be doing a lot more diving with the school, both as little helpers and as students ourselves.
The first rung on the PADI professional ladder looms in the distance but first there is plenty of studying, practicing, perfecting, working and playing to be done :)
The PADI Master Scuba Diver is the highest non-professional certification level in the PADI system of diver education, it has been so much fun getting to this point and I am very much looking forward to getting on the first rung of the PADI professional ladder.
Mark and I did four pool sessions and three open water days with the school this month. We also did the Enriched Air Diver Course and bagged our certs with flying colours, huzzah!
St. Catherines - Loch Fyne with Aquatron Dive Centre
29 Steps with the Open Water students who all did swimmingly.
Mark also did the first part of the Night Diver course at the A-Frames, I tagged along to serve up a hot drink during the surface interval.
St. Catherines with the school last Sunday. It was a bit of a dreich day but it takes more than a bit of rain and wind to wipe the smile off  a Scottish scuba divers face, we are hardcore ;)
Next month is set to be just as busy, kicking off with the Aquatron Big Sale Weekend and Halloween Charity Dance this Saturday. Mark's costume is all sorted but as per usual I am still pondering what get-up to go for, too many choices is my delightful problem.

Have a funderful Halloween peeps :)
Loads of love,

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


On Sunday Aquatron Dive Centre did something absolutely brilliant! 
Spearheaded by Awesome Annie, a bunch of  people gave up their Sunday lie in and headed to Dog Fish Reef, Loch Fyne to take part in the Project AWARE Foundation Debris Month of Action.
Dog Fish Reef is a very popular site for fishermen, campers and divers but unfortunately due to some peoples inability to dispose of their trash in a responsible manner it has over time started to resemble a rubbish dump with bags of trash stuffed in the bushes and litter & fishing line strewn across the shore. 
The main aim of the day was to do a site clean-up both on shore and under the surface, because the litter on land very easily becomes marine debris and sadly when this happens it is usually a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' for many people.
Every year an astonishing amount of waste makes its way underwater and can reach even the most remote ocean areas. The rubbish kills wildlife, destroys habitats and threatens our health and economy.
As a diver you have a unique opportunity to protect the ocean environment and making every dive that you do a Dive Against Debris, even if it is just a quick removal of some fishing line or stuffing a stray piece of rubbish into your mesh bag when you spot it.
From the Project AWARE website.
The simple action of removing rubbish from the shore or the underwater world has the potential of preventing more of these horrible things from happening...
Pics found via Google images.
You don't have to be a diver to make a difference either, it is just as important to remove rubbish from the shore thus preventing it from ever entering the water.

Here's the Aquatron Dive Against Debris day in pictures...
Dog Fish Reef at Loch Fyne.
Mark and I did our PADI Rescue Diver Course here back in May.
It was nice to see such a good turn out for the event.
Argyll and Bute council had kindly provided litter picker tools and protective gloves for the shore clean-up.
Yes, that is me on the right, looking amazingly fabulous in my scuba gear ;)
The underwater debris removal crack team after their first dive.
The shore crew sorting out the debris, counting and weighing it so that it can be added to the Dive Against Debris Map and project stats.
Just some of the debris collected.
The crack team spotted a wheelbarrow but decided to leave it behind as quite a few underwater creatures had made their home on it. The general guideline is to leave alone if things are growing on it or living inside it, unless of course it is something very harmful to the aquatic environment.
Here is Mark with a couple of divers getting kitted up for their second dive.
Mark did his second Divemaster Trainee session on Sunday. 
All bagged up and ready to be collected by Argyll and Bute council.
My hat goes off to the sorting crew that had to go through all the festering refuse that people had left behind in the bushes.
A worthwhile way to spend a day, I think you'll agree.
In other news this old girl turned forty the other week, became a certified PADI Master Scuba Diver and started her PADI Divemaster Internship with Aquatron Dive Centre, exciting times! 
Hope you are all doing grand.
I will love you and leave you with a cracking tune by the amazing Afro Celt Sound System, enjoy :)
All the best,

Monday, 17 September 2012

Underwater Love 2.0

My passion for getting dressed up in vintage garb, donning wigs and a face full of slap is pretty well documented here on my blog but this is only one of my many passions.
A more recently added love of mine is diving, no slap & no wigs involved in that.
The attire you don CAN be snazzy, however any sensible diver would choose comfort & fit over style any time.
When keeping yourself comfortable, warm and dry is of paramount importance, looking good takes a backseat.
However saying that I really rather like the action woman silhouette that a snug neoprene wetsuit creates and as for the drysuit it makes me feel a bit like an adventuress about to explore another galaxy, ready to endure all the excitement, adventure and really wild that I will encounter.
We did our PADI open water diver course back in February here in the UK, the water temperature back then was +4 degrees Celsius, it was bitter.
 My life flashed before my eyes several times whilst kneeling on the training platform trying to preform my skill tasks  but I survived to tell the tale and managed to bag my open water diver certification.
This weekend we were going for our advanced open water diver certification and after the diving we did in Egypt I was so much more comfortable below the surface this time around.
On Saturday we went to Wraysbury, which is where we did our open water diver course. 
I have to admit that I was a wee bit apprehensive at first, thinking back on the watery stone cold grave scenario of February but after seeing the lake surrounded by lush leafy trees in the blazing morning sunshine my mind was soon put at ease and I couldn't wait to get in. 
 We did two drysuit dives and one navigation dive. 
One of the drysuit buoyancy skills involved an underwater egg and spoon race, which was hilarious to say the least. 
The navigation dive was crazy. We got lost and had to surface, descend and repeat the skill again. This was because a group of other divers who were doing a search and recovery dive a bit away from us kicked up so much bottom silt that we had virtually zero visibility, it was like swimming through pea soup. 
We will be doing two more navigation dives when we continue with the navigation specialty course at the end of the month and hoping to do a bit of compass practice on land before then. 
On the Sunday we were doing our deep, wreck and PPB dives at the national dive and activity centre outside Chepstow. 
So after our day at Wraysbury we went straight to Victoria to catch a coach to Bristol. 
We got there just before eleven at night so we had to take an excruciatingly expensive taxi "to" the dive center. 
The taxi driver didn't know where the dive center was so hubby and I jumped out and walked around for half an hour to find it, just as well Mark had stuffed a couple of torches in the bag cause it was pitch black...all good fun though. 
We slept in one of the wooden wigwams on the NDAC site, they are only £40 a night for two people but you have to bring your own sleeping bag.
In the morning the other Dive Wimbledon crew arrived and after brekkie we kitted up for our three training dives.
The first dive I was a little bit apprehensive about because it was the deep diver one but after the briefing I chilled out for a moment away from everybody else and tried to visualize doing the dive before actually doing it and that really calmed me down. We went down to 27 meters and swam around an aircraft at the bottom a few times, ascended and preformed the all important safety stop  at five meters for three minutes and then surfaced. I was a bit scared that I would freak at the bottom cause ascending rapidly from that depth is potentially fatal but I was surprisingly calm throughout the entire dive.
The second dive was the wreck dive and we went down to explore a double decker bus. We didn't go inside the wreck but when we do our wreck specialty dive there will be a wreck penetration option, hubby is keen but I'm not that bothered about going inside stuff, I'm happy poking my head in to have a look but who knows as my skills get progressively better I may be looking for further challenges?
The third dive was delayed because unfortunately a couple of divers had an accident on a deep dive (40 meters) and had to be taken away in helicopter to a recompression chamber. It certainly puts things into perspective and makes me want to adhere to safe diving practices rigorously and checking my equipment prior to diving even more closely. The most important thing though is to keep calm, yes, of course things can go wrong but panicking makes things a whole lot worse and as you never dive alone there is almost always a way of dealing with an emergency without bolting to the surface. I panicked back in February whilst trying to perform the mask remove and replace task and had to be brought back up to the surface by my instructor, he held me down so that I wouldn't bolt and then slowly brought me up whilst trying to keep me calm, what a star!
The third dive of the day was a peak performance buoyancy dive or PPB as it's called in diver circles. We descended to a training table did a bit of hoovering and then swam back to the exit point exploring the area, we swam around a troop carrier maintaining neutral buoyancy and spotted several gnomes. You can bring your own gnome and add to the family and I am definitely doing that next time we go.
After the last dive I was so shattered I could hardly get back up steps of the pier, exhausted but very happy and guess what I jumped in as a open water diver and emerged as an advanced open water diver...huzzah!
An absolutely fabulous weekend was had and I can't wait to get cracking on the four specialty courses that we've got left, diving is so much fun and I love it!
If anyone in the London area is thinking of learning how to dive I couldn't recommend Dive Wimbledon highly enough, the instructors are ace, they are very engaging teachers, meticulously organized and make you feel very safe when you are diving.
Here's a few snapshots from our awesome weekend :)
I hope from the bottom of my heart that the divers involved in the accident  yesterday pulled though and will have a speedy recovery.
Have a great week y'all!
Lot's of love,